Rohingya refugees exhibit craftsmanship in Bangladesh

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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
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The event is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.
Updated 10 December 2018
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Rohingya refugees exhibit craftsmanship in Bangladesh

  • Sale proceeds will be given to Rohingya
  • UN described Myanmar military crackdown as ‘ethnic cleansing’

DHAKA: An exhibition showcasing handicrafts from members of the Rohingya community living in refugee camps was held in Bangladesh on Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people from the Rohingya Muslim minority have arrived in Bangladesh since a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar last year triggered an exodus, straining resources in the impoverished country.

The event, jointly organized by the UNHCR and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is aimed at promoting a livelihood and craftsmanship of the displaced and distraught community.

“I learnt how to make different things out of bamboo from my mother when I was a child,” Khodeza Khatun told Arab News. The 27-year old, who lives in the Kutupalang refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, said her mother made household items from bamboo and sold them to neighbors.

“That little traditional craftsmanship from my  early age has opened a new avenue of my life through which I can now earn a little money, even in this camp life."

Many of those who fled Myanmar hailed from western Rakhine state, where the UN says the military carried out an ethnic cleansing operation against the Rohingya.

The Rohingya are widely regarded in Myanmar as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many have lived there for generations.

“When I was in Rakhine, I used to prepare my own bamboo fishing baskets and some bamboo pots to use during the irrigation of my paddy field. The skill which I acquired from my elders has now become a source of inspiration for many of my fellow refugees in the camp,” said Jomir Hossain, 55, who also lives in the

Kutupalang refugee camp.

Almost two dozen men and women showcased their work, displaying baskets, bags and wall mats.

“We identified the Rohingya artisans and they produced the goods by themselves. We engaged an artist who worked with them and helped them improve the design,” Raquibul Amin, IUCN country manager, told Arab News.

He and his colleagues noticed the Rohingya’s craftsmanship while working on another project.

“We thought it would be very nice if we could show their talent to the humanitarian community in Cox’s Bazar. This recognition of their skill will be useful for the Rohingya people when they go back to their country,” he said.

The sale proceeds will be given back to the artisans but Amin said other humanitarian organizations could take up this idea to help improve the living standards of Rohingya refugees.  

“We don’t have enough scope to earn  here in the camp since we are not allowed to go out. But by preparing these handicrafts and selling them to the outside market, we can fight the poverty cycle to some extent,” said Hossain.

The UNHCR is also interested in  continuing its support for the Rohingya in this way.

“We will keep on finding talented men and women among the refugees and, at the same time, we will keep on finding markets for selling these goods through our partner organizations,” Fhiras Al-khateeb, UNHCR spokesman at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.


Sudan protesters show resilience, employ Arab Spring tactics

Updated 21 January 2019
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Sudan protesters show resilience, employ Arab Spring tactics

  • Activists challenging President Omar Al-Bashir’s autocratic rule say they have learned from their Arab Spring counterparts and introduced tactics of their own
  • Sudan did not experience the mass street protests that swept several Arab nations in 2011

CAIRO: The anti-government protests rocking Sudan for the past month are reminiscent of the Arab Spring uprisings of nearly a decade ago. Demonstrators, many in their 20s and 30s, are trying to remove an authoritarian leader and win freedoms and human rights.
Activists challenging President Omar Al-Bashir’s autocratic rule say they have learned from their Arab Spring counterparts and introduced tactics of their own. That and their persistence appear to pose a real threat to the 29-year rule of the general-turned-president.
Sudan did not experience the mass street protests that swept several Arab nations in 2011. At the time, Sudan was preoccupied with the secession of the mainly animizt and Christian south, which was taking with it most of the country’s oil wealth.
In 2013, a spike in fuel prices sparked protests in Sudan that were brutally squashed, with rights groups saying at the time that about 200 demonstrators were killed.
More than five years later, Sudan is engulfed by unrest once more.
Again, price hikes were a trigger. Protesters reached by The Associated Press painted a picture of resolve born out of despair, mainly from worsening economic conditions that many Sudanese blame in large part on mismanagement and widespread corruption.
“I am tired of prices going up every minute and standing up in bread lines for hours only for the bakery’s owner to decide how many loaves I can buy,” a 42-year-old woman, Fatima, said during protests last week on the outskirts of the capital of Khartoum.
Fatima and others speaking to the AP would not provide their full names, insisting on anonymity because they fear reprisals by the authorities.
Protesters described using medical masks soaked in vinegar or yeast and tree leaves to fend off tear gas. They said they try to fatigue police by staging nighttime flash protests in residential alleys unfamiliar to the security forces
“We have used tactics employed by the Egyptians, Tunisians and Syrians but we have so far refrained from pelting security forces with rocks or firebombs,” said Ashraf, another demonstrator.
They said there was little they can do about live ammunition except to keep medics and doctors close by to administer first aid to casualties.
They also described checking paths of planned protests to identify escape routes and potential ambushes by police. Some of their slogans are borrowed from the Arab Spring days, like “the people want to bring down the regime” and “erhal!” — Arabic for “leave!“
Participants have mostly been in the high hundreds or low thousands, not the tens or hundreds of thousands seen in Egypt or Yemen in 2011, but Sudan’s protest leaders don’t see a reason for concern.
“All that we do now is to prepare Sudan’s streets, so when zero hour arrives, the entire country will be ready to go out on the streets,” said Aseel, a 25-year-old activist.
Authorities in Sudan have used tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and batons to quell the unrest. They have imposed emergency laws and night-time curfews in some cities and suspended classes in schools and universities in others. They have arrested opposition leaders, doctors, journalists, lawyers and students along with some 800 protesters.
Recently, police stormed a hospital in the greater Khartoum area where injured protesters were taken. Police fired tear gas inside the facility’s yard, according to Amnesty International and activists.
“When we take our wounded to hospital, we pretend to be calm and collected so we don’t attract the attention of plainclothes security agents stationed there,” said one protester.
The protesters said they organize on social media, just like protesters did across the region in 2011. They try to elude the police by either giving gathering points codenames known only to protest leaders or publicizing false locations to mislead the authorities.
They also have secured free-of-charge medical care for the wounded in a handful of private Khartoum clinics and use donations to settle medical bills for those admitted to other hospitals.
Rights groups say at least 40 people, including children, have been killed in the clashes, most by gunshot wounds. Al-Bashir’s government has acknowledged only 24 deaths.
Al-Bashir has ordered an investigation into the “recent events” — a thinly veiled reference to the deaths — following demands by rights groups and Western nations, including the United States, that his government probe the use of live ammunition and bring the culprits to justice. A similar probe into the death of the protesters in 2013 came to nothing.
But despite the use of live ammunition and what protesters say is the excessive use of tear gas the protests have continued longer than rounds of anti-government unrest in 2012 and 2013. They have drawn many women — unusual for conservative and overwhelmingly Muslim Sudan — and stayed peaceful except early on when protesters damaged property.
Despite fears of arrest and the danger posed by live fire, “we have no choice but to resist,” said protester Abdul-Metaal Saboun, 25, an unemployed university graduate.
Saboun was detained for three days early in the protests, which were sparked by price rises and shortages, but which soon shifted to demands that Al-Bashir step down.
“There is little we can do about snipers except that some of us search rooftops or scream ‘sniper’ when we spot one, so people take more care,” he said.
He said he was tortured during detention. “There is nothing that makes me frightened of them anymore,” Saboun said, explaining why he agreed to have his full name published.